Saturday, June 2, 2007


This is an often discussed topic and the subject of many essays on composition. While many argue about rules, especially the thirds, many equally argue there are no rules, but simply your eye and vision. Because despite all the rules or theories on composition including symmetry, it's about both balance with some images and imbalance with other images. It's about what you see and where your eyes start and flow in the image. And symmetry then changes its definition to the mind's eye than the image.

In reviewing some recent shots from a few rolls of Scala I noticed sometimes a few to sometimes most of my images on a roll aren't balanced or have symmetry, but they still have flow. For the longest time I didn't know why when a good friend, long experienced in journalism and Web design, explained it about what you see as the viewer. He taught me about how we see, and I've been using that to compose many of my shots, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but still what I saw at the moment.

And that's what symmetry is really about, not photographic symmetry, but visual symmetry. And it's what I'm learning, what your eye first sees and where it flows, whether it's a Web page, art work, or a photograph. I'm learning to use it for my compostion when there's time to do that, which I can with my large format photography, but not always possible with some forms of 35mm photography, like the image above, just taking photos while walking around.

While you can take your time and compose your images with some photography, such as architectural, landscape, nature, portrait, studio, etc., and use your talent, skills, knowledge and experience to frame the image for the subject and the light, with some photography you have to work hard to compose the image, such as sports, wildlife, events, etc., you are limited by the time, places and action. And some photography, such as street photography, composing is happenstance where you have to take what's given to you at the time and place.

My point? When you shoot, see both as a photographer and a viewer of life. Throw the rules away. Don't forget your technical knowledge. We wouldn't want a buch of well composed badly exposed or out of focus images. And as a postscript, the image above was not cropped. It's the whole black and white slide.

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